Have you Ever been Swept Off Your Feet?

In both cases – whether the bubble was inflated with positive or negative energy – the participants in the bubble are being swept away further and further away from actual physical reality and start to see everything either ‘extremely negatively’ or ‘extremely positively’ – neither experience is grounded in reality – because the physical is neither positive or negative – it just is what it is.

And Then You Crash – Meconomics

In this little series, we’ve been investigating the phenomenon of inflation, how we in our daily lives participate in ‘inflating our reality’ and so, how we are on a personal level participating in the same principles/dynamics that we see playing out on a bigger scale when it comes to inflation, speculative bubbles and financial market crashes.

Welcoming New Life with Living Income Guaranteed

Comfort, security and nurturing are all things we wish are present when a baby comes into this world. Yet, these conditions are not a reality for many babies, as parents themselves like these things in their lives. In Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu Natal province in South Africa, 3 to 5 babies are…

Humanity Washed Ashore

This was an excerpt of just one of the stories about the boy. Over the last few days, dozens have been written and published on various major news sites. What is more striking than the content of the posts, is the comments that are left on these articles. What is humanity’s response to such images, to such news?

Voting Fun – What does it Feel Like to Have a Say?

Now – before such increased direct political participation is a reality – let’s do a little test to see what it feels like. So – here are some mock-questions where you’re asked to give your input. Imagine that this relates to your direct reality (eg. your town) – and your answer has a weight that influences the outcome of the decision. Of course, in reality…

31 May 2013

Day 227: When is something Equal and Unequal? – Equality and Human Rights – Part 6

Continuing from:
Day 219: Equality and Human Rights
Day 221: Are Humans Equal? – Equality and Human Rights – Part 2
Day 223: Equality of Opportunity: Introduction – Equality and Human Rights – Part 3
Day 225: Equality and Disinformation – Equality and Human Rights – Part 5

In the previous blog we discussed the problems that ensue when a word has not been clearly defined, and how one ought to agree upon a singular definition and thus use a particular word consistently with its agreed upon meaning, to be able to have a meaningful discussion (which so far hasn’t happened in the history of the concept of Equality).

We also saw that the ‘Great Divide’ on the subject of Equality has mostly been of an illusionary nature, exactly because of the lack of agreement on a definition of Equality. How can we say that there is a disagreement on a singular issue, when both parties mean completely different things with ‘the one issue’?

All of this came forth as we were looking at one of the arguments/justifications (Equal starting point/Equal Treatment leads to unequal outcomes – so why bother) as to why we should not enforce/promote Equality within society, as we had to investigate in which sense ‘equal’ and ‘unequal’ was used in the sentence.

Within this blog we will be looking at ‘what is equal’ and ‘what is unequal’ within using the definition of Equality as Life – where Humans are Equal by virtue of being Alive and being Animated by the same Life Force.

So, we have ‘Life’ as our starting point, as within this rests our Equality. Yet this this Life is not self-sustaining and particular conditions require to be in place for Life to thrive. We can then say, that any situation/circumstance which hampers the ability of Life to thrive, is one that is unequal or is a situation/circumstance within which inequality exists.

When we look at the statement ‘Equal starting point/Equal Treatment leads to unequal outcomes – so why bother ‘ from this perspective, we can clearly see that it does not make any sense, because having Life as one’s starting point cannot have the diminishment of Life as an outcome/end. And promoting Life as a value/principle cannot have the diminishment of Life as an outcome. So when statements are made about ‘what is equal’ and ‘what is unequal’ – we have to investigate/look at each point terms of measuring its relation to Life: does it enhance or does it reduce Life?

When we look at Equality and Unequal/Inequality from this perspective – a lot of the statements/justifications as to why Equality should not be pursued ‘fall away’, as the logic behind the statement becomes inconsistent. Here we can for instance look at the statement that to ‘be equal’ means to ‘genetically disable the able’. Such actions obviously do not enhance Life and thus does not promote Equality among human beings as each one enjoying an Equal Life Experience. When we speak of Equality and Inequality, we are thus bound to keep ourselves to subjects and topics which directly affect human beings’ Living Standard and Quality of Life. This does not mean ‘Equal Treatment’ in the sense of the distorted definition of ‘giving each one the Same Treatment’ – but to treat one Another Equally as to support and assist another to the utmost of our ability so that one can enjoy the Best Quality of Life Possible. Here we have to be clear that ‘the same’ and ‘equal’ – are two different, separate concepts. Different people have different needs – and thus depending on how much support and assistance one requires to reach a Standard of Living that is Optimal – one will receive ‘less’ or ‘more’ to attain this Level – but yet the Outcome is Equal – as Life is each time respected and supported to the greatest extent possible. When one is born with a particular disadvantage which leads a particular individual to experiencing their Life as being obstructed – then the necessary steps require to be taken to remedy this point to the utmost of our ability, to ensure that this person despite their ‘born disadvantage’ may still experience a Life of Quality, as the Life we would have wanted for ourselves would we have been in the same position. Failure to address such impediments to a Thriving Life, would be termed an ‘Inequality’ and would thus be a Problem which requires to be Corrected.

Within the next blog we will look at some more points/statements anti-egalitarians come up with in an attempt to refute the promotion of Equality within society – and how these arguments lose all validity once the factors and variables are intricately linked and connected to Life and the support thereof, as how we explained it in this blog.

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30 May 2013

Day 226: Deserving Life or Death - Social Justice and Human Rights - Part 5

This blog-post is a continuation to:
Day 118: Justice and Human Rights
Day 220: Justice and Human Rights - Part 2
Day 222: Justice and Human Rights - Part 3
Day 224: Justice and Human Rights - Part 4 - Social Justice: Merits and Deserts

In the Previous blog-post we discussed the Principle of Merits and Deserts as a basis for just distribution of resources. It became clear that to distribute goods and services based on 'who deserves them' is a more complicated matter than it may initially seem to be. There are different definitions to the word 'merit' or different conditions under which it could be applicable and it is not clear which is preferrable. As such, there is also no way of measuring merit in an objective way.

Furthermore, the implications of distributing goods and services based on merit must be understood. Distributing goods and services is not a matter of distributing 'prizes' after a match. Everything a person requires to live in this world is either a good or a service. Therefore, can we really make such things as whether or not a person has a lifeline, dependent on a game of 'see who's better than who'? Do we need to deserve to stay alive? Currently this is implied in our economic system. I know we've all been taken in by the 'Survival of the Fittest' Theory and regardless of the debate on its validity - do we really want this to be who we are? That we let people die because apparently in some way it has been 'assessed' that they weren't worthy of life, that they didn't deserve to live?

We were all born onto this planet, we are all alive - where does it state that we now also have to deserve to be alive? Because - that is what we literally do by participating in this economic system and going to work: trying to 'earn our living'. Isn't that an absurd idea?

We grow up as a child, some of us in the illusion of being able to play all day and have fun, still ignorant about the 'complicated stuff' of the 'grown-up world' - where we still believe in magic, because we don't see how it's a problem that something just pops up out of nothing and that there must be a trick behind it - where we trust what others tell us because we don't see a reason why we wouldn't - to then some day wake up in a world of competition and struggle, where you're now told: This world is a scary place! You better prepare yourself because otherwise you won't make it! You can't pay the rent, get out! You can't afford that, put it back! Didn't anyone ever teach you that in this world it's every man for himself! Toughen up!

Obviously - if you hear these words by the time you're a teenager, you're lucky, you still had a pretty good life - there are children out there who are exposed to the cruelties of the world from as early as they can remember.  What do we say to them? Sorry, you just don't deserve any better? What apparent superpower decided that the world has to be this way that we now apparently all have to continue living our life in service of it?

In the next part of this series we discuss the Principle of Need as a basis for distribution.
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28 May 2013

Day 225: Equality and Disinformation - Equality and Human Rights – Part 4

Continuing from:
Day 219: Equality and Human Rights
Day 221: Are Humans Equal? – Equality and Human Rights – Part 2
Day 223: Equality of Opportunity: Introduction – Equality and Human Rights – Part 3

In the previous blog we looked at opposing views in relation to Equality of Opportunity.

The one view was ‘merit’ based – promoting the idea that equality of opportunity consists of each one’s success/achievement being dependent on skill, talent and effort which is determined by one’s genetic endowment. The other view was based more on a moral point of view, where within considering the natural and unnatural differences that exist between human beings, we have a duty to make all resources available to make sure that everyone has the same level of access to achieve their goals.

We mostly focused on the arguments coming from the liberal side that justified why we should not intervene in ensuring that everyone has the same level of access through providing adequate material conditions and supplies:

1. Equal starting point leads to unequal outcomes – so why bother
2. People are not a product of their environment
3. One’s genetic endowment as determining one’s position in society is beyond morality/justice

[Quoted from: Day 223: Equality of Opportunity: Introduction – Equality and Human Rights – Part 3
Within the following blogs, we will be putting these statements ‘under the microscope’ and dissect where these statements come from, their meanings, and implications.

Let us start with the first statement:

Equal starting point leads to unequal outcomes – so why bother

The problem with this statement rests within one’s use of various definitions for ‘equality’ and ‘inequality’. The first thing you learn when approaching the concept of Equality is that it is an ‘ambiguous’ and ‘fuzzy’ concept, and the subject of ‘much debate’.

From the get-go, there is no clear, precise, specific, comprehensive definition of Equality that everyone uses and has agreed upon. Consequently, there are different authors using different definitions of equality, and even singular authors assigning different meanings to equality and inequality within a single piece of text. The lack of consensus on what is meant when we refer to ‘Human Equality’ causes a lot of confusion and headaches when studying the subject matter.

Those who come from a more liberal point of view, tend to use the word Equality and Inequality, synonymously with ‘the same’ and ‘different’ respectively. Thus, whenever something is different – the argument is made that it is ‘unequal’. When something is ‘exactly the same’ – it is supposedly equal (Which explains where ludicrous statements such as ‘if you want to make people equal you will have to genetically disable the more able’ come from).

This leaves us on the one hand, with a very ‘black and white’ view on Equality -- Where two beings or more are equal only, if and when they are the same in every respect – and on the other hand a very broad view on that which is Unequal, where any two or more beings are ‘unequal’ the moment any form of ‘difference’ is exhibited. As we all know, there are many things that can be ‘different’ and thus it is easy to argue that something is ‘unequal’ when one places one’s definition of ‘Unequal’ equivalent to ‘Different’.

Those who are seen as more ‘egalitarian’, have a completely different view on the concept of Equality, where this is more closely tied to living standards different people enjoy – and does not pay attention to ‘the sameness’ of people as what ‘characteristics’ they display and how much these ‘are the same’.

When one initially starts studying/investigating the notion of Equality, one is faced with a ‘two-camp’ debate – where the one camp is ‘Pro-Equality’ and the other camp is ‘Anti-Equality’. This gives the impression that there is much disagreement on the topic of Equality in terms of whether we should pursue Equality as a value or not within society. This is a very deceptive in appearance, as there is not actually a conflict/debate on whether or not we should promote Equality or ‘leave things to be’ – as the only thing the ‘Anti-Egalitarians’ are saying is that they do not wish to be exactly the same. This view or wish that one does not want to be ‘the same’ in every respect, is actually quite compatible with the notion of Equality most people have that are Pro-Equality. The only reason why there is a fight/debate – is because each time someone says that they’d like to see ‘more equality’, is that the other side interprets this as ‘this person wants me to become more uniform’ – while this is not the case at all. All the other person is saying, is that it would be cool if we could get everyone to enjoy more or less the same standard of living. The same happens when the more liberal side makes a statement saying that they ‘do not wish to see more equality’, where the egalitarian side reacts to this in a negative manner, because they are merely responding from their definition of equality.

The impression that there is a definitive division among people with regards to the notion of Equality, is for the most part fictional. It only creates the appearance of conflict and division because there is no actual agreement on a singular definition of what Equality exactly entails and stands for. On the Equal Money platform, we often get remarks and comments of strong disagreement with particular in relation to particular statements, and once these comments have been ‘talked-out’ and clarified – we see that people mostly disagree and react to the Equal Money Statement simply because there are various ways to interpreting the concept of Equality, and thus the meaning of statements can vary greatly depending on who is reading it. This does not mean that they ‘really disagree’, but merely that they are disagreeing with the statement within using their particular definition of Equality.

So thanks to a long history of non-consensus on the word Equality – we have a tiny single point, a mere word-definition, being the reason why people are fighting and arguing for and against Equality and not coming to Solutions to the Benefit of Humanity. The fact that this single point of disagreement on the word definition of Equality as being the source of Division has never been pointed out or attempted to be cleared up – indicates that the maintenance of the Idea that there is Division on the subject is in fact an act of Disinformation. Keeping the Illusion alive that there is much conflict and debate on Equality, biases and manipulates people into believing that they have to ‘pick sides’ and ‘make up their mind’ on the subject of Equality. This is a False Dilemma.

Within the next blog we will resolve the statement ‘1. Equal starting point leads to unequal outcomes – so why bother’ within applying the approach of Equality as laid out at the end of Day 221: Are Humans Equal? - Equality and Human Rights – Part 2 .

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27 May 2013

Day 224: Justice and Human Rights - Part 4 - Social Justice: Merits and Deserts

When Aristotle discussed the concept of Justice - he spoke of remedial or corrective justice, which specified how to punish offenders of the law, but he also spoke of distributive justice, where he asked how much each one should get of what, or: how should resources be justly distributed? Aristotle's concept of distributive justice is what is currently known under the term 'social justice'. It is thus not a 'new' concept, but one that has been occupying the minds of people since the ancient period.

We'll have a look at three principles that are often put forward as a basis for 'just' distribution of resources:
1. The principle of merit and desert
2. The principle of need
3. The principle of equality

The principle of merit and desert states that people should be treated according to what they deserve. Material rewards should only be handed out to the deserving. When someone receives something they didn't deserve or when someone doesn't receive something they DO deserve, an injustice occurred in this view.

The question that arises here, of course is: What constitutes a merit?

Is the fact that someone is more talented a basis on which to provide them with more material wealth? Does the person deserve this or is a person's talent merely a matter of luck or chance, and so - not part of one's merit? But then, what about those people who have a talent that they developed themselves through hard work, something they did not have a natural disposition towards, but a skill they developed until they became talented in it? And then - how to distinguish between natural endowments and merits?

Or does merit have to do not so much with how much one contributes by virtue of one's talents, but based on how much effort a person puts in. Here - two people who are equally productive may not be rewarded the same way, because for one it was a struggle while for the other it was a breeze. So - then, the reward-system of distribution based on deserts would create incentive for individuals to place themselvs in positions of struggle just so they could 'earn more'. But is that the kind of life you would encourage for individuals? And - if each one acts accordingly, by choosing a profession or a task they struggle at most - will this really produce the best results for society as a whole?

According to liberalists, the free market is the best system to evaluate merit and desert, where prices and wages determine what a person's contribution is worth to others in society. Yet - herein is not considered that most successful businessmen or businesswomen are not so because of 'merit' or 'desert', but because of privileged backgrounds, because of heritage, because of luck and because of socio-economic access to opportunities. And a classic example I like to use is: who deserves the highest pay: the mineworker who physically works every day or the CEO of the mining company whose most strenuous effort is to place a signature here and there? What is often argued is that the CEO has an investment to lose, and therefore is putting more on the line - but then the counterargument is of course: is the mineworker not putting his life on the line and is the CEO's investment worth as much as his own life?

Liberalists like to pretend that the free market models are perfect for assessing the merit of individuals in how much they contribute to society, but they are actually merely using these models to justify why such huge inequality exists - where they can say: 'Well, you're worse off because that's what you deserve'. And then difficult-sounding jargon is used and graphs are presented that apparently prove their point - but the truth of the matter is: the free market system is not based within merit - it is merely based within competition - and herein, the system does not consider who works harder or who deserves more - it does not make such value judgments - it simply balances opposing forces and then ends up somewhere in between.

Others of a more socialist orientation propose a planned economy, where a person's merit is directly measured by a public institution, such as a government. However, the problem still remains in objectively stipulating the conditions under which we are now speaking of merit and whether such merit-based system will provide the most favorable resutlts.

Psychologically speaking, deserts are linked to a person's expectations. If a person expects to receive high material rewards and then does not receive them, a perception of unjust deprivation will arise, whereas - if a person has adjusted its expectations to previous patterns and as such, does not expect much, may not feel as though they are being deprived of what they deserve - simply because the expectation pattern is different. However, does that mean that the one person is really being deprived and the other not? Is there an objective way of establishing just reward versus unjust deprivation or are these concepts too much influenced through relative perception?

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25 May 2013

Day 223: Equality of Opportunity: Introduction – Equality and Human Rights – Part 3

Continuing from: Day 219: Equality and Human Rights
Day 221: Are Humans Equal? – Equality and Human Rights – Part 2

Within this blog we will be looking at some of the interpretations of the concept ‘Equality of Opportunity’. The views on Equality of Opportunity can be broadly split up in two perspectives, one which is considered an ‘egalitarian’ view and looks at Equality of Opportunity as Equality of Starting Point – and another which is connected to a liberal point of view which sees Equality of Opportunity as Equality of Access.

When the topic of discussion is Equality of Opportunity, the term ‘opportunity’ is linked specifically to opportunity within the sense of education, job and career. Those who are more liberal believe that what is important is that everyone has ‘access’ to the same opportunities. This basically means that ‘the opportunity exists’, not per se that you will be able to make use of it. This view of Equality of Opportunity is defended on the basis of merit, talent, skill and effort – where there is an inherent belief existent that if you ‘work hard enough, you’ll be able to pursue your dreams’. According to this view, material conditions are not a deciding factor in whether or not someone will be able to make use of an opportunity. From their perspective, the egalitarian view of Equality of Opportunity as Equality if Starting Point is ineffective and inefficient.

Within the stance of Equality of Starting Point, material conditions are taken into consideration as important variables which will influence one’s success in pursuing a particular education/career. Not everyone comes from the same social background, and this may lead to some facing obstacles, hindering their path to achievement. To remove these obstacles, everyone should be given adequate material resource availability so that everyone can enjoy the same start and thus the same opportunities. But – because not everyone will use these opportunities in the same way (eg. One does not study sufficiently to pass one’s exams) – we still have a difference in outcome. This difference, is dubbed to be an ‘unequal’ outcome – and used as an argument by those who are pro-opportunity-of-access to dismiss the concept of Equality of Starting Point – as in the end, those who ‘deserve’ success based on effort, talent and skill – still reach success, while those who didn’t exercise effort, talent or skill will not reach their point of success. From their perspective, the establishment of an Equal Starting Point is just a waste of scarce resources while promoting ‘unequal outcome. The only way to have ‘real equality’ within a context of Equality of Starting Point, is apparently by forcing the same outcome on everyone – by either enabling those who are disadvantaged, or by disabling those who are advantaged (translation = ‘the industrious, ambitious and talented people’). Within following either method, it is believed that the more ambitious/able people are being disadvantaged for the sake of enabling the disadvantaged and is considered to be unfair. Whether it is through appropriating additional resources to the less advantaged (because apparently it means ‘taking it’ from the more advantaged), or directly, through medically and genetically disabling the more able (no joke, this actually comes up as an argument) – those who are in positions of advantage are being abused.

From the liberal side, there is also a strong belief present that human beings are not a product of their environment (which is one of the reasons why economic/material conditions are believed to not be relevant factors in the context of equality, freedom and opportunity). One’s ability to work hard and exhibition of particular talents is a ‘natural’ phenomenon, and is therefore a matter beyond morality or justice – as it merely ‘is’ and therefore cannot be fair or unfair.

It is these exact same beliefs that are in the end used to justify inequality within the world. We are unequal by nature – so this is by default ‘the just and right way’ – why bother to make equal that which was not equal in the first place? It’s just not ‘natural’.

So within this blog, we had a look at two different interpretations of Equality of Opportunity and had a look where each side is ‘coming from’. Within the next blog, we will be looking further into the justifications/beliefs used to defend inequality within the world, namely:

1. Equal starting point leads to unequal outcomes – so why bother
2. People are not a product of their environment
3. One’s genetic endowment as determining one’s position in society is beyond morality/justice

In the end, these beliefs/arguments are all just derivations of a single, essential belief – which is that we are not equal and thus it means that this is the way it should be – or alternatively: Equality is Unnatural.

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